Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr Craig Chittick
Reporter: What are your assessments on the results brought about by the high-levels visits and cooperation projects in trade, education and training, culture and other areas between Australia and Vietnam in 2016 and 2017 since the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) organised successfully the 12th National Party Congress?
Ambassador Craig Chittick: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 45 years ago, Australia and Vietnam have developed a strong political, economic and security relationship. Recent high level visits and enhanced cooperation in new areas such as innovation and infrastructure reflect a deepening of these ties and the importance both countries place on the partnership.
Last year alone saw new agreements and initiatives on issues as diverse as economic reform, illegal fishing, women’s empowerment and agriculture. Our existing initiatives also continued to deliver results, for example, the Australian supported Vietnam Climate Innovation Centre (VCIC) helped 17 companies to develop new solutions to climate change challenges in Vietnam with around 45% of these companies run by women. VCIC will work with a further 21 companies in 2018.
Last year also saw an unprecedented number of high-level visits between the two countries including by Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and the Chairwoman of Vietnam’s National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. These visits have served to further strengthen relations between the two countries and reflect the growing importance of the relationship. Looking ahead, this trend will continue with PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc to visit Australia in 2018.
In my view, none of this would be possible without the strong people to people links which we’ve seen flourish under education and cultural exchanges between our two countries. There are over 60,000 alumni of Australian education in Vietnam and around 23,000 Vietnamese students studied in Australia in 2017. And the future looks bright, with our two countries to agree further enhance cooperation in 2018 through a new Strategic Partnership.
Reporter: The year 2018 will mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Could you please tell us about some key celebrations for the year?
Ambassador Craig Chittick: The 45th anniversary year will be celebrated throughout 2018 with a program showcasing the diversity of the Australia – Vietnam relationship. The anniversary program will include a range of events including cultural, tourism, economic and innovation events.
Earlier this month, I was delighted to mark the beginning of the anniversary year at the Temple of Literature. As a lasting symbol of the friendship between Australia and Vietnam I was proud to present nine information panels which will educate visitors about the Temple’s remarkable history. We also launched our 45th anniversary logo which was chosen following a public competition late last year. The winning logo was designed by a Hanoi-based amateur designer, who beat 152 other entries and impressed with his modern design reflecting a beautiful and personal memory of Vietnam’s participation in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Ambassador Craig Chittick and logo contest winner (Photo: Australian Embassy Hanoi)Cao Lanh bridge in Dong Thap province (Photo: Australian Embassy Hanoi)
Anniversary celebrations will continue throughout the year. Highlights for me in the program include the opening of the Cao Lanh bridge (Dong Thap province) – Australia’s largest aid project in mainland South East Asia – our Taste of Australia promotion in April, and a series of great Aussie BBQs planned in different provinces around Vietnam.
Reporter: The recent years have witnessed Vietnam’s political stability, more sustainable socio-economic development, and improved business climate? Do you agree with this view?
Ambassador Craig Chittick: Vietnam’s economic development over the past thirty years has been nothing short of remarkable. This reflects a commitment to implement market reforms, deepen economic integration and attract new investment from overseas. I have been impressed with the Vietnamese Government’s commitment to continue these reforms, including by supporting new trade agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the EU Vietnam FTA.
Vietnamese students in Sydney gathered for traditional lunar new year 2017. (Photo: Internet)
The introduction of the Resolution 19 on improving the business environment has been important too and has helped Vietnam to climb 31 rankings in the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators since 2014. There is no doubt this is helping Vietnam become a more attractive place to do business.
However, further reforms are still needed if Vietnam is to increase productivity and avoid the middle income trap. Through our Economic Partnership, Australia is helping Vietnam to address these challenges. For example, we are sharing experiences on Australia’s competition policy reforms which will help to promote efficiency in the private sector.
Our new Aus4Equality program will promote increased participation for women in the economy, particularly in tourism and agriculture. Through our new Aus4Innovation program, we are also helping to foster a culture of innovation to ensure that Vietnamese business is ready to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.
Reporter: The Vietnam APEC year ended with the country’s successful host of the APEC Leaders’ Week in November in Da Nang. Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull had a fruitful bilateral meeting in the week. What do you think of Vietnam’s performance as the APEC host as well as the outcomes of this significant multilateral event?
Ambassador Craig Chittick: Hosting an APEC year is a huge challenge for any country; there are nine ministerial meetings, five senior officials meetings and countless other working level meetings throughout the year. Vietnam did a fantastic job, even with a few extra challenges thrown in such as a typhoon arriving in Da Nang at the start of Leaders’ Week.
A highlight for me was the hosting of meetings throughout the country, showing off both Vietnam’s spectacular natural beauty and unique culture to leaders from around the region.
Vietnam did an exceptional job in defining the overall priorities for 2017: promoting inclusive growth and jobs; increasing regional integration; promoting food security; and human resource development. These are important issues for both developing and developed economies, and align well with APEC’s core business. Australia had its own priorities and we were pleased to see progress continue on reducing barriers to trade and investment in services and in the Free Trade Agreement for the Asia Pacific.
Importantly, the APEC meetings also delivered on a Leaders Statement that stressed the importance of a multilateral, rules-based trading system. APEC remains an important vehicle to highlight the benefits of free trade and counter the rising tide of protectionism in different parts of the world.
This will ensure that Australia and Vietnam can continue to benefit from deepening economic integration./.
Reporter: Thank you so much!
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